It took 13 years, but Carlene Carter found her way back to making music.
“I stopped doing drugs, for one thing — that’s always a plus,” says Carter, 52, who was involved in a well-publicized drug bust in 2001 with her former boyfriend, the late Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers bassist Howie Epstein.
“I just changed my whole environment. I didn’t live in the places I lived for a long time. I’m a grandma now; grandma’s aren’t supposed to be doing drugs and staying up for 10 years at a time. The hardest part of it is just deciding to make the change and then doing it.”
These days Carter, who has four grandchildren and a fifth on the way, is married to fourth husband Joseph Breen. She released a new album this year, “Stronger,” whose songs deal frankly with her past and the recent deaths of her mother (June Carter Cash) and stepfather (Johnny Cash). She’s recruited ex-husband Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello and others for her upcoming tribute album for her father, the country singer Carl Smith.
And Carter promises it won’t take her another 13 years to put out her next record.
“If it’s another 12 or 13 years, I’m really gonna have to change my act,” Carter says with a laugh. “But when I’m playing music and stuff, I get more inspired and tend to be more productive. I go in spurts, and I’m in a pretty good one now, I think.”
Carlene Carter performs at 10:30 p.m. Friday (July 25) at the 4th Fridays with Ford series at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit. Admission is free. Call (313) 962-0101 or visit www.campusmartiuspark.com.